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Department of Consumer and Design Sciences

Graduate Programs

M.S. in Consumer and Design Sciences

The M.S. in Consumer and Design Sciences offers both a Thesis and a Non-Thesis Option. The Thesis Option requires a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate level coursework including a research or creative scholarship-based thesis and a final Oral Examination (presentation and defense of the thesis). The Non-Thesis Option requires a minimum of 36 semester hours, a graduate project, and an oral presentation of the project. This Graduate Project may include creative scholarship, case study, course development, or design development. The Plan of Study is highly individualized, based upon the student’s academic background, work experiences, and career goals.

Teaching and/or research assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis, based upon program needs, student qualifications, and funding availability.

The following list suggests topical areas for advanced study in Consumer and Design Sciences:

  • Consumer Behavior
  • Interior Design
  • Functional and Creative Apparel/Product Design
  • Design Management
  • Retail Management
  • Product Development
  • Sustainability
  • Creativity
  • Forecasting and Trend Analysis
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Multicultural and Global Markets



Beyond basic requirements, each student’s program is tailored to his or her own educational objectives and goals through the selection of courses and topic for the thesis or project. Although coursework is taken primarily within CADS, courses from other departments may be identified as appropriate.

New students are advised by the Graduate Program Officer for their first and perhaps second term. Coursework includes CADS requirements. Following identification of a Major Professor, elective selections are made in communication with and approved by the Major Professor and student’s Graduate Advisory Committee. CADS courses carrying graduate credit (numbered 6000-8000) include regularly scheduled courses and customizable courses that may be taken by a single or small group of students. A list of possible non-CADS supporting courses has been identified by CADS graduate faculty, but others may be suggested by a student.

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CADS Graduate Program Overview

CADS Requirements
Parallel requirements for Thesis and Non-Thesis Options (13-14 credit hours)

  • CADS 7040 Protocol for Graduate Study (1) (Fall only)
  • CADS 7060 Survey of Consumer and Design Sciences Research (3) (Fall only)
  • CADS 7050 Research Methods in Consumer and Design Sciences (3) (Spring only)

One of the following four theory courses:

  • CADS 7100 Environmental Design Theories and Applications (3)
  • CADS 7200 Aesthetics Theory and Consumer and Design Sciences (3) Pr. CADS 7050 (Spring semester in odd number years)
  • CADS 7670 Social Psychological Theories in Clothing Behavior (3) Pr. CADS 7050 (Spring semester in even number years)
  • CADS 7690 Consumer Theory in Apparel and Interiors (3) Pr. CADS 7050 (Fall semester in odd number years)

One statistics course (3-4 total hours): Selected from a list of choices in consultation with student's Major Professor or GPO

Requirements for the M.S. – Thesis Option:

A minimum of 30 total credit hours required
CADS 7990 Research and Thesis: (4-6 credit hours)
10-13 credit hours in CADS graduate courses; courses outside the Department may be approved for some of these hours.

Requirements for the M.S. -- Non-thesis Option:
A minimum of 36 total credit hours required
CADS 7980 Graduate Project (Non-Thesis) (3-6 credit hours)
16-20 credit hours in CADS graduate courses; courses outside the Department may be approved for some of these hours.

Customized Program
Courses taken beyond the CADS-specific requirements should be taken to support the student’s post-graduate goals and fill in gaps in experience or knowledge identified by the student and Graduate Program Officer (GPO) (first), and ultimately by the student and Major Professor (MP).

Major Professor and Graduate Advisory Committee

Each master’s student’s Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC) is composed of three or four faculty – a MP and two to three other graduate faculty. The MP succeeds the GPO as advisor and chairs the GAC. Any of CADS graduate faculty can be asked by a CADS master’s student to serve as her/his major professor. It is a good idea to identify more than one possible person in case your first choice is too busy or does not feel that her/his expertise links to your interests. You are strongly encouraged to schedule meetings with all faculty members with whom you may want to work so that you can describe your interests and goals, as well as their range of topical and methodological experience. Having two co-MPs is not uncommon and may be desirable for topical, methodological, or workload reasons.

Once you have decided whom you would like to have as your MP, you ask that professor if he/she is willing. When you have identified your MP, complete the Declaration of Major Professor form available here and in the CADS Office. Following this, you will begin to talk with him/her about identifying committee members. At least one member has to be CADS graduate faculty. Sometimes a student asks a professor in another department (whose course the student has taken) to be a member, but most often all members are CADS faculty. Sometimes there are reasons to have an extra member to make a committee of four including the MP. The committee must be identified prior to the student being able to complete the Plan of Study (POS). It is students’ responsibility to ask the faculty in person if they will serve on his/her committee.

Plan of Study
The plan of study is each student’s list of courses completed and to be completed to comply with Graduate School and CADS requirements. It is filled out online at http://grad.auburn.edu/degreeworks.html. CADS program requirements are pre-identified within the system. Other courses and terms taken need to be added.

Content of the plan of study should be decided with the major professor prior to going online. Sometimes committee members will suggest courses. Committee members must approve your plan of study. You are strongly encouraged to complete the course planning and Degreeworks entry by the beginning of your third semester. It must be completed one semester prior to the semester in which you graduate.

Once completed, the plan of study can be revised if needed; revisions must be approved by your committee. The Revision to Existing Plan of Study form is available online. Substantial revisions may require filing a new POS in Degreeworks. The Graduate School will audit your Degreeworks plan when you request a graduation check (no later than the end of the semester before you plan to graduate -- Graduation Application and Approval Form (GAAAP).

The POS is each student’s list of courses completed and to be completed to comply with Graduate School and CADS requirements. It is filled out online. CADS program requirements are pre-identified within the system. Other courses and terms taken need to be added by the student.

Content of the POS should be decided with the MP prior to going online. Sometimes committee members will also suggest courses. The MP and all committee members must approve your POS. You are strongly encouraged to complete the course planning and Degreeworks entry by the beginning of your third semester. It must be completed one semester prior to the semester in which you graduate (http://bulletin.auburn.edu/thegraduateschool/themastersdegreeprogram/ ).

Once completed, the POS can be revised if needed; revisions must be approved by your GAC (http://bulletin.auburn.edu/thegraduateschool/themastersdegreeprogram/). The Graduate School will audit your Degreeworks plan when you request a graduation check (no later than the end of the semester before you plan to graduate -- Graduation Application and Approval Form (GAAAP).

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Additional information and plan of study:
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Dr. Veena Chattaraman
For More Information Contact:

Dr. Veena Chattaraman
Graduate Program Officer
vchattaraman@auburn.edu
334-844-3258